BYU Football Coaches Share Thoughts On Utah Joining Big 12

Aug 8, 2023, 2:48 PM | Updated: Aug 10, 2023, 10:44 am

PROVO, Utah – The Big 12 Conference has reunited BYU football with rival Utah.

Over the weekend, the Utes were unanimously approved by Big 12’s Board of Directors (school presidents and chancellors) to become a Big 12 Conference member. They join Arizona, Arizona State, and Colorado as new Big 12 members beginning in 2024.


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BYU and Utah have a long, storied history of being conference rivals. But they haven’t been in the same league since 2010. That was when they were in the Mountain West Conference together.

It’s been a minute since the two were together again.

BYU football coach Kalani Sitake is excited for the newcomers

They will have to wait another year. Eighth-year BYU head coach Kalani Sitake is keeping the focus on this season. However, he acknowledges his excitement to have his former employer, Utah, and other Pac-12 schools joining the Big 12.

“I’m really excited. I think the conference has gotten a lot stronger. I’m excited that they’re going to be on our schedule consistently, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Sitake on Tuesday.

Sitake didn’t contact his mentor and former boss, Kyle Whittingham, over the weekend as both are entrenched in their fall camps.

“We’re all so swamped right now with what we’ve got to get done. That doesn’t help us this year. I think we all know that it’s happening next year, which is going to be fine,” Sitake said. “… I don’t want to disrespect his time and also mine with the thought of other than just seeing it, ‘OK, that’s cool.’ Other than that, I got players on this team that won’t play against those guys in the new conference. So we’re focused on the schedule that we have right now.”

State of college football

The conference realignment movement has led to many talking heads around college football sounding off on the state of college athletics.

Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz believes there hasn’t been much thought placed into the Olympic sports athletes and their mental health. Others, like Colorado coach Deion Sanders, made it clear realignment is about the money. How does Sitake feel about the state of college athletics and the cash grabs from many of these universities?

“I think we’re a society that can adapt. So I think there’s a lot of interest in the game of football and college football and change can be good,” said Sitake. “I know there are people that are upset about tradition being lost, but that’s just kind of what society is; things move, they adapt, and you evolve and things change. College football will be just fine. We’re all adapting to whatever happens with conference affiliation, realignment, and with what’s going with the College Football Playoff, transfer portal, and NIL. All that stuff we have to work with but the interest and the excitement of college football has always been there. And it’s still strong.”

Sione Po’uha on his alma mater joining the Big 12

One of the newcomers on BYU’s coaching staff this year is Sione Po’uha. The former Utah star and assistant is coaching BYU’s defensive tackles. He shared his thoughts on his alma mater joining the Big 12.

“We’re always excited for what the future holds for us. But we’re very focused on this year, right,” Po’uha said.” It’s an opportunity for us to go out this year, our first year in the Big 12, and to bring the best to the field.”

When Utah officially joins the league on August 2, 2024, the Big 12 Conference will feature Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, Colorado, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech, Utah, and West Virginia as members.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on Twitter/X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Football Coaches Share Thoughts On Utah Joining Big 12